Enrollment figures for Missouri’s two largest universities provided both cause for concern and reason for optimism as school returned to session last week.
The University of Missouri in Columbia welcomed 4,100 freshmen this year, 700 less than last year. However, the university reported a retention rate of 86.6 percent, which is the second-highest rate in school history.
But MU continues to feel the effects of the racial unrest that gripped the campus in 2015. First-day enrollment across campus was just more than 30,000 students. At the same time last year, enrollment was 32,777. In 2015, that figure was nearly 35,500.
By contrast, Missouri State University saw continued growth of its enrollment figures, albeit at a slowed pace. The Springfield campus reported enrollment of more than 21,000 students on its first day, which is a new record. The figure marks an increase of 244 students, or 1.2 percent, over last year’s first-day total.